Ishutin Circle

Ishutin Circle


a secret revolutionary organization founded in Moscow by N. A. Ishutin and set up to prepare a peasant revolution by means of a conspiracy of groups from the intelligentsia.

The Ishutin Circle emerged in September 1863, as a group aligned with the first Land and Liberty group. After the self-liquidation of the latter, the circle, having developed an independent existence, to some extent brought together the uncoordinated groups of the Moscow underground. In 1865 it established ties with the St. Petersburg underground (through I. A. Khudiakov), as well as with Polish revolutionaries, Russian political émigrés, and provincial circles in Saratov, Nizhny Novgorod, Kaluga Province, and elsewhere; it also attracted some semiliberal elements. The nucleus of the organization was composed mostly of natives of Penza Province, including Ishutin, P. D. Ermolov, M. N. Zagibalov, N. P. Stranden, D. A. Iurasov, D. V. Karakozov, P. F. Nikolaev, V. N. Shaganov, and O. A. Motkov. In December 1864 the circle’s members helped arrange the escape from prison of J. Dąbrowski, a Polish revolutionary. In Moscow they founded a tuition-free school (September 1865), a bookbinding workshop (autumn of 1864) and a sewing workshop (February 1865). In Mozhaisk District they established a cotton wadding factory in October 1865 on a cooperative basis. Also in 1865 they conducted negotiations with the workers from the ironworking plant at Liudinovo in Kaluga Province, hoping to restructure that enterprise as a cooperative of the workers. Around the beginning of 1866 a steering committee (Organization and, within it, Hell, a tight controlling group) and the Society for Mutual Assistance were created. A program (Regulations) was drawn up that contained elements of subsequent Narodnik (Populist) programs of various tendencies (including propagation of socialism among the people, terrorist tactics, and conspiracy) and that projected the creation of a network of secret circles in the provinces. The circle’s members attempted to organize N. G. Chernyshevskii’s escape from penal servitude (1865–) but were unsuccessful. After Karakozov’s attempt upon the life of Tsar Alexander II (Apr. 4, 1866), the organization was partially exposed. The Supreme Criminal Court gave out various sentences to 32 members, and many members were subjected to administrative repression.

The period in which the Ishutin Circle was active was marked by a lull in the peasant movement and the onset of reaction in the country. Many of its members became involved in the revolutionary and social movement of subsequent decades.


Pokushenie Karakozova. Stenograficheskii otchet …, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1928.
Filippov, R. V. Revoliutsionnaia narodnicheskaia organizatsiia N. A. Ishutina-I. A. Khudiakova (1863–1866). Petrozavodsk, 1964.
Vilenskaia, E. S. Revoliutsionnoe podpoVe v Rossii (1860-e gody XIX v.) Moscow, 1965.
Vilenskaia, E. S. Khudiakov (1842–1876). Moscow, 1969.